Kergorlay winner bound for Melbourne

France’s most important guide to the Emirates Melbourne Cup threw up an interesting contender from Germany overnight after a victory from the Andreas Wohler-trained Protectionist.

Wohler, who is based at Gutersloh in the mid-west of the country, has enjoyed success around the world already in the likes of the Arlington Million, QE II Cup in Hong Kong and Dubai Duty Free, and he now has his eyes firmly on Australia.

Four years ago, the Group 2 Prix Kergorlay (3000m) provided the first ever French champion at Flemington when Americain burst onto the scene.

Twelve months later the same galloper, along with eventual first and second Dunaden and Red Cadeaux were involved, while future Cup runner Shahwardi ran in the 2012 Kergorlay.

Last year’s renewal produced Verema, the Aga Khan’s mare who sadly lost her life in Australia.

There were only four runners going to post at the Normandy seaside track overnight, and Wohler held the key to it as he fielded half of them.

Progressing in single file, Protectionist was settled in third place under Eduardo Pedroza as Christophe Soumillon directed the speed aboard his stable companion Altano.

As soon as Pedroza asked his mount for an effort at the 300m, Protectionist sailed past his rivals and settled the race very quickly, without his Panamanian jockey needing to get at all serious.

Protectionist eventually finished a length and a half ahead of Fly With Me, who won the Group 2 Prix Vicomtesse Vigier (3100m) back in May.

It was the German-bred four-year-old’s first start outside his homeland, and he has not been out of the places in eight outings.

Wohler, who brought Altano to Melbourne for the 2001 Cox Plate, said: “It wasn’t really a staying race as they didn’t go much pace and Altano isn’t a horse who really wants to lead.

“I was pleased with both of them and Protectionist will be going to Australia. We’re thinking more of the Melbourne Cup than the Caulfield Cup – Caulfield is a very early entry stage so we just put him in.

“We’ll get him down there and he’ll have a prep-race in Australia, I should think in one of the other Cup races.”

Altano, who had finished seventh on his previous start in the Gold Cup at Ascot, is likely to be returning to France to defend his title in the Prix du Cadran (4000m) in October.

The Deauville card also provided a significant result for the Victorian breeding industry with unbeaten colt The Wow Signal, a first-crop son of Rosemont Stud’s Starspangledbanner, winning the Group 1 Prix Morny (1200m).

Story by Martin Kelly